Spotify Wants to Read Your Child Their Bedtime Story

The streaming service has launched a Spotify Kids app that could takeover the role of Mum or Dad

ids whose parents have the Spotify Premium Family Plan are able to beta test a new Spotify Kids app from today. The service will initially be available in Ireland, but will be rolled out to all markets that have Premium Family eventually. The product is the result of two years of research, with Spotify consulting with child advocacy groups during development.

From today, kids from the age of three upwards will be given access to 6,000 pieces of content curated by human editors. The content consists mostly of music, just like the main Spotify app, with kid-friendly content including clean versions of songs from artists such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars as well as audio from partners such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Discovery Kids and Hasbro.

Spotify Kids will also include also age-appropriate stories, which means parents who are dismayed at the prospect of reading their little darling’s favourite story for the thousandth time can now outsource their bedtime reading routine to the app.

The important thing is with Spotify Kids, parents will be able to control their kids’ listening and rest safe in the knowledge that the content they are accessing is age-appropriate. The Spotify Kids app only works after parents give their explicit consent during sign-up. After sign-up, parents can determine when the kid can listen through parental controls.

This look and feel also varies by age group, for example, the artwork for younger kids is softer and character-based, while content for older kids is more realistic and detailed. The only element that children can change on their own is choosing among a dozen customised avatars. Only one playlist can be customised and accessed offline, and this is a collection of favourites that kids can pick.

Photo by Alireza Attari on Unsplash

Parents are increasingly concerned about online safety and age-appropriate content. They have good reason to be worried too; last month YouTube announced changes to how it treats kids’ videos, as the FTC hit Google with new rules and a record $170 million penalty to settle a probe into the privacy of children’s data on the dominant video site.

In the press release announcing the launch of Spotify Kids, Spotify said: “While launching this kids app is an exciting moment for Spotify, creating it was not a task we took lightly. We knew the importance of understanding parents’ needs and making sure they would have peace of mind about the content their kids are consuming. “

Spotify has been keen to stress that the app is ad-free, and complies with European and US privacy regulations. Spotify stressed it would not be sharing or selling data to third parties, an important claim for cautious parents. But Spotify does collect encrypted data related to what’s playing to help personalise the listening experience — however, parents can request that this data is deleted if they want.

There is still the option for parents to enter their child’s date of birth, so that kids get a birthday acknowledgement on the day. But do Spotify really care enough to want to celebrate annual milestones with our children? No, more likely they just want another data point that they can encrypt and use to feedback on what is being listened to by different age demographics.

It’s a well-intentioned app that aims to make it easier for parents to control what their children are listening to, and in many ways it echoes the child-friendly ‘Kids’ user option on Netflix and YouTube Kids service which the CEO recommends to parents who have kids under 13 who watch independently. They’re obviously doing what they can to make it safe for kids to use and for parents to trust.

But with so many child friendly tiers appearing on our online media platforms we have to ask ourselves — who is raising our kids? Surely there are some things — like a bedtime story, or a singalong to wheels-on-the-bus in the car on the way to school — that should be left to Mum and Dad?

Maybe I’m old-fashioned — what do you think? Tell me below about whether Kid friendly tiers on Netflix, YouTube etc. have been a blessing or a curse as a parent.

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